The Philadelphia Flyers appear to be in a good position to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this season.
Yes, the East has a few powerhouse teams and yes, a playoff series with any of the top clubs in the East, but this team has the roster to do some damage. A lot of the damage the Flyers will do will be through their offense.
In free agency, Philly jumped at the chance to bring back James van Riemsdyk to help out their offense. The Flyers were smart enough to lock him up to a five-year, $35 million deal. He’s still young, but he can put up points, play on the power play, and be a force in front of the net.
The team has an excellent offense surrounding JVR. He brings his skills and goal-scoring ability to team that has guys like Claude Giroux (34 goals and 68 assists for 102 points), Jakub Voracek (20 goals and 65 assists for 85 points), Wayne Simmonds (24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points), Sean Couturier (31 goals and 45 assists for 76 points), and Nolan Patrick (13 goals and 17 assists) already there, this team is now absolutely stacked up front.
Offensively, this team will have a lot of options in terms of filling out their lines. There are a lot of talented players, guys that already have chemistry together, and guys that are young, fast, and can put the puck in the net.
Defensively, this team should be just fine. They are led by Shayne Gostisbehere (13 goals and 52 assists for 65 points) and Ivan Provorov (17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points). These guys can clearly produce, but they have also managed to develop their defensive games, which is important considering the team’s goaltending situation (we’ll get into that later).
Following those two studs are Andrew MacDonald, Travis Sanheim, Radko Gudas, and a lot of young defensemen. This is a relatively young defensive corps so hopefully, they’ll continue to mature in each area of their respective games.
As always, the club’s goaltending is going to be questionable. Heck, it may even be a problem.
Simply put, starting netminder Brian Elliott is way too inconsistent. He had an okay regular season, but he was absolutely awful in the playoffs. The guy behind him, Michal Neuvirth was decent last season as well, but like Elliott, was not good in the playoffs.
This team needs a goaltender that can help them. Someone who can win a lot of hockey games, be consistent, and really grab hold of the starting goaltending position.
This could happen sooner or later with Carter Hart. Hart has a legitimate shot to be the club’s main man between the pipes next season as he is pegged to be the long-awaited savior for the team between the pipes. Chances are that he’ll spend the majority of the season playing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL while he still develops a bit.
Overall, this team has a good chance to make the playoffs. It is ultimately going to be their goaltending that determines how far they can go, which is a scary thought.
Photo: NBC Sports Philadelphia